I have been very hard on the politics of South Carolina and Georgia. Obviously, both states cast their electoral votes for John McCain in 2008, and I am very certain that they will both support Mitt Romney later this year. They also have both been state’s whose Republican primary voters supported Newt Gingrich (47% in Georgia; 40% in South Carolina), which have heavy Tea Party movements, and where very conservative, right wing evangelicals have tremendous influence.
I even offered my condolences to friends who live in Columbia SC for having to live in such a frightening political environment.
My wife and I spent the past week in South Carolina and Georgia: we were in Charleston/Sullivan’s Island, SC, and Savannah, GA. We had a very nice time – both fascinating and attractive historical cities. No one we came in contact with seemed the least bit frightening. And even more (and to my great surprise), I did not see any signs of this year’s political fights. No bumper stickers, no billboards, no pamphlets. Nada.
This I did not expect. I expected that I would see a significant amount of political advertising. And it got me to look at bit further. This is what I found.
In the 2008 presidential race, while South Carolina voted Republican 54% to 45%, and Georgia voted Republican 52% to 47%, this means that 46% of the voters support the Democrats. That’s not a small number. But in addition, I learned that the voting percentages were not consistent across the two states. In South Carolina, for example, by my count, 20 counties (out of 46) had Democratic majorities in the 2008 election.
Charleston County, SC, in 2008, voted 55% Democratic and 45% Republican. Chatham County, GA (Savannah), in 2008, voted 57% Democratic and 42% Republican. And, even more surprising to me, Richland County, SC (Columbia) voted 64% Democratic and 35% Republican.
So, perhaps it isn’t so surprising that I feel comfortable in these three places, that I don’t feel threatened by right wing evangelical pressures, when I am walking the streets of Savannah, Charleston or Columbia. It turns out these places are OK, and I owe them an apology.